Wolves of Mateo: Wolf Moon

Austin was taken by the hunters by the banks of Wolf Lake - deep in the forests of Mateo, Wyoming. Searching for him is Riley and Dante - his closest friends yet worst enemies. They both have very little time to save him from what's likely to come - a sacrifice for the Wolf Moon - a hunter legend engrained in their traditions. Trying to save their friend is only part of the deal, as new enemies emerge threatening the whole balance of things back home as both Riley and Dante set on a trail out of state in Colorado before they realise the real threat is oozing out from within. A new chapter unfolds. BOOK TWO IN WOLVES OF MATEO DUOLOGY.

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4. Chapter 4

The morning has been really peaceful and would have been heaven on earth if I weren’t awoken at an ungodly hour. The spare room was as beautiful as any other room in the house and we both relaxed there together in the morning, putting off getting up but Dante was adamant that we had to go into town – check out stores, look around. That sort of stuff. He were treating this trip like it really were a holiday and I couldn’t help but frown.

Dante hauled himself from the bed and walked towards the still packed suitcase. I had no idea what I’d wear considering I had nothing because of how fast we’d left town.

Dante got dressed quickly in some casual blue jeans and a white skinny fit shirt. He left silently and came back not five minutes later with some clothes. “I asked Lay’s sister – she seemed your size,” he mumbled as he passed me a bundle of fabric.

The clothes were some faded brown trousers and a camisole. It was comfortable, and that’s all that mattered. These clothes were certainly Lay’s sister’s cast-offs. I couldn’t imagine anyone wearing them. “I’ll have to buy some things in town,” I mumbled as I started dressing myself with Dante turned away.

“With my money,” he pointed out. I would have felt guilty for using his money on any other occasion, but I told myself this was his way of making up the trouble and pain he caused me when gave me silent treatment for months.

I tapped his shoulder when I was done. “I’m just going to use the bathroom, I’ll be back soon,” I said before I left towards the adjoining bathroom and began to brush my teeth and tame what I could of my hair. I was sure Dante wouldn’t mind if I looked a bit messy. It really couldn’t get worse.

Joining him downstairs, we let the family know we were leaving and exited on foot down the dirt road towards town. “I hope you know your way around,” I mumbled, but Dante ignored me and picked up my hand.

“Anything you’re looking for? Something you’ve really wanted?”

I shrugged and said, “Not really.”

Dante mumbled, “That helps.”

“I don’t need nor want anything other than something to wear – seriously. And then we get on with the important stuff, like finding those hunters.”

We broke out onto the main road we’d travelled down maybe less than a day before. It was quiet – a silent Monday morning. Teenagers at school, adults at work, and then there was us.

The trees lined the side of the road much like the roads back home. It gave a sense of familiarity, I supposed, and it made me feel at ease. We weren’t in a completely foreign place.

Lay had given us directions to the main street of stores and the small mall they had and we soon both figured out the simple layout of Dunsmore. It didn’t take long for everything to be seen and when we saw what we had to choose from I began to feel mildly disappointed. “Our selection,” I said, as I scanned the view. I couldn’t complain – Mateo had even less than this.

The first store that piqued my interest was a boutique – containing over priced items of clothing that both of us would surely shy away from buying. We entered anyway.

The store was well kept and proper, it had a tall old ceiling and a rather spacious interior. Not that it mattered – I was only interested in the price tag of the clothing on the racks. If only I could find something I liked, I thought.

“Dante, it’s all pink… and frilly,” I said as I picked up a strange looking garment that was in two pieces, but it looked like it was supposed to be worn as a dress.

The shop attendant gave me a funny look from the opposite side of the room, just before a bell above the door rang signalling us to another’s arrival.

I buried myself further into the other racks and rails and Dante joined me. Wrapping his arms around me from behind, he mumbled, “You should try wearing something like this.” He held up a short dress with multiple cut outs. No way.

“Dante,” I scolded, but he just laughed deeply sending vibrations through us both as he held me against his chest.

“Well, maybe not in hot pink. I was thinking more blue-black colours. I think you’d look good in that.”

I turned around in his hold. “I think you’d look good with a black eye.”

He grinned, with a twinkle in his blue eyes. “Now, don’t be so violent.”

I played mad at him. “Whatever,” I said, as I pulled away and wandered off away from him.

“Since when have you had such a hip sway when you walk?” He called after me.

I hid myself in a small corner and went through the less colourful items. I picked out a white cotton shirt – my sort of style. Of course I had no doubt that Dante was being completely serious back there and he’d much prefer something that shown a little more skin and consisted of a bit more lace. That wasn’t my style and he knew that.

A shadow suddenly casted over the corner and I looked up to see what was obscuring the light. A person. “You’re not from around here,” they said. The man was tall – possibly older than Dante. He looked that little bit more buff and intimidating, his presence filling my escape from the aisle. A pleasant smile slipped on his face as if to try and seem nicer.

“Maybe,” I replied, dancing around the question.

He didn’t like my answer. “Where’d you come from?” he rudely asked.

I had no doubts that he was also of the four legged kind and gave him a look. For a moment I tried to subtly catch his scent, but I couldn’t. I could smell new clothes, an obnoxiously sweet perfume, and the shampoo I’d used last night. No trace of human or werewolf and internally I cursed my lack of ability. “Out of state,” I simply replied.

I tucked the white shirt over my arm and tried and walk around him. He blocked the path. “What’s a pup like you doing far away from home?” he grinned tauntingly.

Dante chose then to show up, his smaller form appearing behind the intimidating now-confirmed werewolf. “With her mate,” he growled.

I looked up at the man’s rounded face and glared, taking little note of Dante. I tried to match his confidence but miserably failed as I replied, “Seeing as we’re already talking and we both know each other’s identities, what do you know about any hunters in the area?”

The man threw a look over his shoulder at Dante and moved to let me past. I stepped into Dante’s side as he approached possessively.

“Hunters?” The man laughed as if the question was hilarious. “What would hunters be doing in Dunsmore?”

“What’s your problem?” Dante asked

The taller man looked down on Dante. “Was wondering why a little miss like herself was so far away from home but with this talk of hunters I don’t think I want to know. If you’re here for trouble, leave.”

Dante snarled in an inhumane way and I could almost feel his wolf rising. “Dante, let’s go.”

They both stared each other down for a few seconds until my tugging made effect and Dante pulled back first. “Hey! The little miss’s shirt is on me, okay?” The guy called at the cashier, glancing back at the shirt I’d scrunched between my fists.

“Sure thing, sweetie,” the older shop assistant replied as we left the shop – white shirt hanging from my right hand and a raging Dante on my left.

***

“Remind me when we get back to ask Lay to get his Mutt’s under control,” Dante grumbled as he tore his way through a sandwich in the middle of a food court in the mall.

I look down at the bags by my feet – Dante had bought me more than enough clothes so far today and I was worried about the amount of money I’d wasted. My eyes fell on the shirt from the boutique. “Dante, I’m sure Lay’s pack is bigger than yours – it’ll be hard to keep all the bad eggs under control. Are you sure he was a Santoro wolf?”

“Bad eggs,” Dante grumbled before adding, “Yes. He certainly wasn’t a rogue. Although it’s hard to distinguish a pack’s scent from another, I’m certain he was a Santoro.”

Under the table I felt Dante’s legs curl around mine and pull them toward him, unsettling me from my seat. “Hey!” I yelled playfully.

Dante smiled at my reaction and said, “Bad mood aside, what else do you want to do?”

I lifted up the cupcake I was eating and took a mouthful. Through my food, I spat out the word, “Eat.”

Dante looked disgusted. “Yeah, well, I’m finished.”

“Get some more then!”

Dante shown me the inside of his wallet for exaggeration. “Out of cash, babe.”

I stood from my seat, cupcake still in hand, and threateningly held it out at his. “Call me babe one more time, I dare you,” I growled. Of course, I meant no harm.

He raised both his hands in surrender and I slowly backed down again. People around us began to notice our rowdy behaviour. “Save the rough play for later,” he replied with a swift wink. “Now if only I knew where my money went.”

I look down again and saw the few bags of clothing. It was by no means a lot of clothing or expensive clothing, but it certainly wasn’t the cheapest we could find but Dante had insisted of buying me something not from a thrift store.

“You’re not made of money – don’t you need to think of finances for the pack?” I yelled at him.

Dante shook his head and leaned on his hand. “I may be alpha, but even I’m only given an allowance to spend every month – I suppose it’s to prevent me from running the pack dry of its funds, I mean, as you said – the kitty isn’t bottomless.”

“That’s a good idea,” I replied.

Dante fiddled with his phone for a bit not looking at me. “There are case’s all the time from all over the world of alpha’s going out, first day on the job, and blowing their entire savings on the stupidest of things. I don’t want to be like that,” he said softly, getting down to some emotions I hadn’t seen before. “There was a case of a young alpha who was killed by his own pack members for spending all their money. Hundreds of wolves who relied on werewolf money went hungry. Not all werewolves choose to live also as humans – some rely on these funds.”

I took hold of his hands and rubbed them reassuringly. “Lesson to be learned there, don’t make the wolves go hungry or they might bite the hand that feeds them.”

Dante nodded. “Yep,” he muttered. “But not to worry. Ethan is transferring more money tomorrow – we’ll need it.”

***

As soon as we returned, Dante spent a while ranting to Lay about the unknown male only to find out that the Santoro pack wasn’t the only pack around here, nor did they only have packs – they had rogues. Lay explained rogues weren’t seen as the enemy in Dunsmore – packs and rogues lived together in peace.

Regardless of that, Dante insisted the man smelled like a Santoro wolf and that the man had laughed at the suggestion of hunters in Dunsmore. Lay tried to brush it off.

“I hope we meet again. He sure as hell wasn’t a rogue,” Dante said to no one in particular, prodding for a reaction.

We stood in front of the Santoro house staring off into the surrounding forest and trees. Lay made a few phone calls and then moments later signalled for us to come closer. “We’re doing a routine territory check – I don’t know if you tend to do those, but our land isn’t the biggest so it’s manageable and by making sure nothing strange has trespassed our land we can also keep our men fit.”

Dante curled his nose. “I don’t know what kind of pack you think I run, but isn’t it normal for all packs to do territory runs?”

Lay ignored the comment like Dante was too young to understand, despite lay being older by mere years rather than decades like he tried to pretend he was. “Well I’ve just called a few men to come and I hope you’ll join us.”

A few men emerged and suddenly we were on our way in a straight line through the forest. Dante taken hold of my hand as if he cared and helped me along as we weaved between trees. Of course the other men took off in a run, but I wasn’t a runner – and Dante wasn’t leaving me behind. Lay kept by our sides but made sure to keep our pace up.

Lay looked tired himself – but for most of today he’d looked tired and I wondered what was wrong. “This will probably be as exciting as it gets,” Lay said, as he himself stumbled over some protruding roots.

Ahead out of sight some chaos began to break out in the form of noise and shouts. I could almost visualise Lay’s ears perking as his eyes zeroed in on the source of the sound. It was surely his men. “You wait here, I’m going to check out what’s happening,” he grumbled.

Lay sprinted off ahead and left Dante and I side by side, confused and concerned. “What’s happening?” I asked quietly as if Dante would know.

Dante didn’t stay still like Lay had asked though and he instead pulled us both along in the direction Lay went. We could see their forms emerge from the tree shapes and darkness, and another figure was there – lying curled up on the ground by their feet. They weren’t hurting someone, were they?

Lay looked up at us and shook his head. “I thought I told you to stay put.”

Dante looked like he was about to say something, but Lay interrupted. “Never mind. He’s not one of ours, they found him when they went on ahead,” he explained, but it didn’t answer any important questions. Lay yelled off some command about taking the man back to the Santoro house and tied up – but that didn’t seem appropriate when the man looked near death.

“Aren’t you going to treat him first?” I asked curiously.

Lay was too busy to answer, and instead Dante leaned down and whispered, “He’s not from their pack but he’s on their land – Santoro can do what they want with him, especially if he doesn’t belong to any pack.”

Lay turned to us both. “There’s some important stuff I need to factor in back at the house, will you be alright here yourself? Follow my other men and you’ll be safe.”

Dante nodded his head.

“Don’t leave Riley alone out here,” Lay said, directed at Dante.

Dante had no chance to say something cheeky in return as Lay was already down on four legs and sprinting away with two larger men carrying the injured wolf behind him and the others already gone. “Who do they take me for? First they think I don’t know even the basics of a pack and next they think I’d be stupid enough to let you wander about yourself. Oh man. And I already knew the guy was a rogue as soon as they ran off – I could smell the rogue scent.”

“Just ignore it,” I said, as I turned in the direction they ran and began making my way back, too.

“Nu-uh, you hold up, Riley. No leaving my sight. If you turn up at the pack house without me, I’m pretty sure I’d never live down the pup comments.” Dante grabbed hold of my arm and pulled me back into him with a bit too much force as I stumbled into his chest.

I laughed up at him teasingly. “You’re so touchy these days. Need to reassure your pride?”

“Just holding you close reassures that pride, don’t you worry,” he mumbled into my ear.

I wasn’t in the mood to carry on with Dante, like he might have been – I was more curious about what was happening. I’m sure Dante was curious too, but obviously not overwhelmingly. “We should go,” I said, as I escaped his grasp and made my way again.

I could hear Dante sighing from behind. “If you insist.”

Thoughts began to cloud over. Something wasn’t right here. Dante’s sense were still dulled from the hunter poison but they weren’t selective. He knew the man found by lay was a rogue but Lay insisted Dante’s sense were wrong when he identified the man from the boutique as a Santoro. If he were a Santoro, why did he not know about the hunters? Any pack aware of hunters would have everyone on high alert.

Something didn’t add up and that had begun to unnerve me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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